No. 23 Creighton summoned enough competitive fire right when it needed to Friday, earning a five-set victory over DePaul in CU’s first match in nearly a month.
It was evident when freshman Kiara Reinhardt rejected a swing at the net for a block, then dropped to one knee in celebration as her teammates circled around her. And junior Jaela Zimmerman smoked a blistering kill right by the DePaul defense. And sophomore Keeley Davis saved a point with alert defense after a ball got tipped over the net.
The Jays’ strong finish resulted in a 25-18, 19-25, 20-25, 25-11, 15-9 victory at Sokol Arena.
“I think we brought more urgency,” Zimmerman said. “That really helped us and gave us a lot of confidence.”
Creighton (5-2, 2-1) is still figuring itself out after taking a month break from competition due to COVID-19 cases within the program.
Zimmerman thought the Jays struggled to pass consistently during the early portions of Friday's match, Creighton's first since Feb. 6. Coach Kirsten Bernthal Booth said CU had too many errors, and she credited the improved Blue Demons (3-4, 3-4) for taking advantage.
But then Creighton found a groove.
It jumped to a 7-2 lead in the fourth set and later used a 6-0 run to extend its advantage to 19-9. And after the teams traded points early in the final set, Creighton put the match away with a 7-1 surge.
Zimmerman helped spark the Jays down the stretch. She ended up with 15 kills and 14 digs.
“She did a great job leading the team,” Booth said. “She displays confidence out on the court.”
Davis finished with a team-high 17 kills. Reinhardt added six kills, and senior Naomi Hickman ended up with 11.
Creighton and DePaul are scheduled to meet again at 11 a.m. Saturday.